Dance of the Flyers/Flyers of Papantla

One of the more breathtaking experiences to enjoy during a trip to San Miguel is the Dance of the Flyers/Flyers of Papantla. The “flyers” swing on a hundred-foot pole. This beautiful ritual ceremony is also listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage event. Five men climb to the top of a single 100-feet tall pole. These men climb to the top of the pole where there is a wooden platform. After some time, this wooden platform starts spinning slowly and then they’re off!

Written and Photos by Dennis Cieri

The four voladores, flyers, hang themselves upside down by attaching a rope around their waist. The fifth person, the caporal, dances on the center-top of the rotating platform while playing a small drum and a flute.

The four men swung around the pole and descended slowly upside-down with their arms spread. Each Volador represents a cardinal point and the leader, the center of the earth. Each one must do 13 laps before touching the floor. If we multiply 13 by 4 (number of flying men), the result is 52. The number of years of each solar cycle according to the ancient cultures.

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